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Don't let property division leave you 'barking' mad

Dividing marital assets. To many going through divorce, this process is one of the most frustrating, oftentimes only overshadowed by child custody arrangements. This isn't surprising considering the fact that it can be difficult for most people to see roughly half of what they own go to their soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Unfortunately, what can make this process turn even more tumultuous is the involvement of pets. Oftentimes considered part of the family, pets present divorcing couples with a unique legal situation that may not result in the outcome many anticipate.

A look at the law

As you may not know, Indiana law sees dogs, cats and other pets as property for the purposes of dividing assets and liabilities during divorce proceedings. This means, however, that our furry friend are treated no differently than the good china.

As is the case with other property, it needs to be determined whether the pet was obtained prior to or after marriage. If it was acquired after marriage, the pet becomes marital property, a value is placed on it, and it is subject to state equitable distribution laws.

Division of a pet isn't that simple

While you may not have an attachment to the good china, the same isn't true for pets in most divorce cases. Attachment to an animal by both spouses can lead to contentious disputes over who should get the animal. In some cases, couples have been known to ask for special custody arrangements.

Because Indiana family law does not provide creative solutions to custody problems involving pets, couples are encouraged to remain civil during property division discussions. Whether with help from an attorney or mediator, an amicable arrangement regarding the family pet can be reached as long as couples are willing to work toward a resolution.

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